Adie Flute, who has been working with the Rucksack Project, says that he has seen a rise in the number of homeless people in the town in the past few weeks.
He told the Chronicle: “I’ve been teaming up with the Rough Sleepers Project since lockdown started in March, and two or three people go out every night with food parcels and to speak to those who may be in need of things like sleeping bags.
“Fortunately the weather has been fairly good during lockdown which always helps things, but recently it’s fair to say we have seen an increase in rough sleepers in the town.
“We’ve also seen that more people are becoming concerned about being evicted from their property due to unpaid bills as the eviction ban is about to finish so we’re dealing with that aspect too.”
Adie admits council staff are helping a lot of rough sleepers into temporary accommodation, but feels that more needs to be done to support those who are in challenging circumstances.
“It’s a slightly tricky situation at the moment because the council are doing some good in that they’re putting some rough sleepers into housing, but those that are being left on the street are the ones that are tougher to help,” he added.
“I think that the council removing the tents could be a good thing if it means that they’re placing them into accommodation, but it isn’t the case for every situation.
“I think that the council needs to be putting more effort in to put those who may have challenging needs, mental health problems for instance.
“Whatever is stopping these people from being put into accommodation has to be dealt with by the council.”
Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson for communities, added: “Over recent weeks, several rough sleepers have erected tents in recreational areas, mainly in the town centre.
“We’ve been working with this group of people, especially throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to help accommodate them and move them into long-term accommodation.
“The tents are not the right solution going forward, and they are not appropriate during the pandemic.
“The location of the tents also causes a problem as they are being erected in places used by the general public.
“Therefore, the decision was taken to remove the tents.
“The rough sleepers are known to the council and our partners. From this group, some have accommodation that they can return to, some have lost accommodation recently due to serious antisocial behaviour, a number have been successfully rehoused in the last two weeks, and a smaller number do need more wrap-around services and provision from us to help them with their issues and complex lifestyles.
“We will continue to work with our partners to support those who find themselves homeless and rough sleeping in Barnsley.”